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Houseboats aren’t just for the rich. Here are some of the best places to live on a houseboat, and how you can get started.
The idea of living in one place while traveling sounds like an impossible dream — but it’s not if you’re willing to do your research beforehand. You might be surprised by which cities offer up the best housing options when moored in a houseboat instead of living in a traditional home.
Whether you want to rent or buy, there are plenty of great locations around the world where you could set up shop permanently while still exploring the rest of the planet. Check out our list below so you never miss another opportunity again.
Note that many countries have different rules regarding boat ownership (and even registration) than others. For example, Australia has strict regulations about who is allowed to own boats, especially those used as homes. Be sure to check local laws before buying anything!
If you’d rather travel and live in different places without owning your own vessel, consider renting instead. Some marinas will allow short-term rentals as well, depending on location, size, etc.
1. Miami Florida
Sure, we know what you’re thinking: “I don’t need more sun.” But think about this: In addition to being relatively affordable compared with other major coastal destinations, Miami offers lots of charm. The weather is warm year-round here, making it easy to enjoy outdoor activities no matter when you choose to visit.
Plus, there are tons of bars, restaurants and clubs for night owls (many of them on or near the water) And speaking of water…
Boat rental rates vary widely between seasons, but expect to pay anywhere from $500 per month to upwards of $5,000 per week. Rental prices also depend on whether you’re looking for something long term or prefer to take them along during a specific time frame.
For instance, you may see much lower monthly payments if you only plan to rent a houseboat for two weeks every springtime, versus someone who wants to keep their floating pad year round.
If you decide to purchase, make sure you find a reputable broker. It’s important to work with people you trust because they’ll handle everything else related to finding and maintaining your boat, including insurance, maintenance and fuel costs.
2. New Orleans Louisiana
New Orleans’ reputation as America’s most romantic city makes sense once you realize that nearly half its population lives within walking distance of the Mississippi River. That means plenty of room for boaters to tie up alongside locals going back and forth to work each day.
There are several popular riverfront neighborhoods where you can moor your vessel directly onto Bourbon Street — perfect for strolling through historic French Quarter streets after dinner.
Rental rates for a houseboat range considerably based on factors such as season, type, length, amenities and availability. Expect to shell out somewhere near $800-$2,200 per month. Most owners require a minimum three-month lease agreement, although shorter contracts are sometimes available.
As far as purchasing goes, brokers often charge a commission ranging from 5 percent to 15 percent. This fee usually depends on the transaction cost. As always, it pays to ask questions and read reviews prior to signing any paperwork.
3. San Francisco California
San Francisco isn’t known for having a lot of space, but boaters won’t mind since they have all of the water at their disposal. There are dozens of bridges across the Bay connecting SF residents to nearby Oakland, Berkeley and Vallejo. So wherever you dock, you’ll have quick access to public transit that lets you explore beyond town limits.
Or maybe you’d like to travel further? Just hop over on Amtrak California’s Coast Starlight train and head northward toward Canada.
Weekly houseboat rental fees average roughly $1,650 per week (of course depending on size and condition) Monthly expenses start around $2,350, though that number tacks on extra taxes and fees associated with longer stays.
Ownerships are slightly cheaper, averaging under $1,300 per month, but they will require you getting a loan or purchasing the boat outright which many people can’t afford when buying a houseboat.
It is important to note that you will likely spend far more on fuel, food, and attractions in California than in the other states mentioned above. So be sure and take that into consideration before deciding where you want to take your houseboat.
4. Portland Oregon
Portland boasts gorgeous scenery all year round thanks to abundant rainforest, coastlines, rivers and lakes. While visiting downtown, stop by Old Port Brewing Company for a brewery tour, then pick up some beer souvenirs at the gift store afterwards. Afterwards, relax at one of the area’s many pubs and eateries.
Once you’ve worked off enough steam, hit up PDX Jazz Festival, Multi Float Music Festival, Oregon International Bluegrass Festival or Oregon Brewers Fest for music, food and drink.
Houseboat weekly rental fees range from $1,700 to $7,000 per week during peak season. Prices go down substantially if you opt for a seasonal or longer term rental. Longer leases come with higher deposits and additional fees, however they are far cheaper per week/month.
Owners should look into coverage offered by both renters and insurers alike. Keep in mind that these policies differ significantly from homeowner’s policies. Make sure you understand exactly what coverages you receive before committing to a deposit.
5. Seattle Washington
Seattleites love hanging outside whenever possible, so why shouldn’t you? Take advantage of sunny days by setting sail on Lake Union Park or West Dock and cruising around Elliott Bay. When winter rolls around, grab a kayak and paddle out into Puget Sound.
You could also hire a guide and spend the afternoon touring Olympic Peninsula National Parks, fishing or hiking trails. Then cap off your adventure with a meal at Pike Place Market for fresh seafood or a cup of coffee at Starbucks.
Monthly houseboat rental fees range from $1,250 to $3,750 per month, plus security deposits. Weekly rates average $1,100-$2,800 per week, with nightly prices averaging a few hundred dollars.
6. Hoboken New Jersey
Hoboken feels similar to Manhattan, except way less crowded. Enjoy breathtaking views of the Hudson River as you cruise past landmarks like Liberty State Park and the Statue of Liberty. Hoboken also happens to host Jersey City Cruise Terminal, which provides direct service to Atlantic ports like Boston and Philadelphia.
Houseboat prices vary greatly depending on a variety of factors, including seasonality, size, amenities and availability. Rentals generally begin around $850 per week, while monthly ownership costs fall between $1,150 and $18,000.
Most brokers who could help you buy a houseboat charge commissions ranging from 2 to 10 percent. Always seek references ahead of time so you feel comfortable working with anyone.
7. St. Petersburg, Russia
St. Petersburg sits on the Baltic Sea, offering beautiful beaches, sandy shores and picturesque islands dotting the horizon. Whether you want to hang out on Neva bankside or at Peterhof Palace, waterfront excursions abound. Take a ferry ride to witness stunning panoramic views of Saint-Petersburg and neighboring towns. Catch a show at Mariinsky Theatre or ballet performance at Kirov Ballet Theater.
Weekly rates start at $1,900 per week, plus security deposits. Monthly rates can range from $2,600 to $41,000, depending on the length of your stay (and of course the houseboat that you choose.
If you decide to buy you will find that commissions range from 3 to 7 percent.
In general, boat ownership tends to be pricier upfront than temporary rentals due to added expenses but long term it can be a great choice. If you’re planning to stay in one spot for an extended period, owning a boat gives you greater flexibility to move around freely. Also, it’s worth noting that some nations have restrictions regarding residency status for non-citizens.
Talk to local authorities first so you’re aware of any potential issues if you decide to rent or buy a houseboat in another country.
8. Brooklyn New York
Brooklyn’s proximity to Coney Island marks it as a prime destination for partiers seeking inexpensive accommodations close to the beach. Spend the day soaking up rays on Brighton Beach promenade, then retire to your home on the water for a delicious meal and or to enjoy the sunset.
After dark, hit up Barclays Center sports arena or iconic Williamsburg Water Tower.
Monthly rental rates start at $1,200 per month, plus security deposits. Weekly rates are less expensive at $550 per week.
Ownership cost for a houseboat will depend on where you moor it as well as the type of houseboat you buy, Brokerage fees are capped at 4 percent of the total price.
If you’re interested in staying awhile, note that permanent residence requirements exist in certain areas. Contact your officials for details.
9. Los Angeles California
Los Angeles is famous for its sprawling metropolis packed with attractions. From Hollywood to Venice, you can explore L.A.’s diverse neighborhoods before heading back to your houseboat. Visit Universal Studios Hollywood theme park, then catch a movie at TCL Chinese 6 screen theater. Later, dine outdoors overlooking the Pacific Ocean at Sushi Rock restaurant.
Weekly houseboat rates start at $1,450 per week, plus security deposits. Monthly rates include various discounts and promotions.
Brokers charge commissions ranging from 1 to 8 percent. Ask about how much interest you earn from holding a particular property.
Remember fees paid to providers like lenders, title companies and surveyors add to the overall expense.
As with San Francisco, prices in LA can get expensive fast so be sure and check out the cost of fuel, docking, food, etc. before deciding on whether it is a good option for you and your houseboat dreams or not.